clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2021 NFL Draft profile: Jaylen Waddle headed for Dolphins reunion with Tua Tagovailoa?

Alabama vs Tennessee Photo by Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

It is finally draft day! The NFL Draft is about 24 hours away. This morning, we continue to take a closer look at some of the prospects who could be on the Miami Dolphins’ radar. Who will Miami select with their two first-round picks in tonight’s selection process?

We continue looking at the measurables, what analysts are saying, and the fit with the Dolphins for Miami’s potential draft targets. You can check out any of the first seven profiles in the links below. Our eighth look could bring a reunion of two Alabama offensive star in Miami.

Next up on the list, Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle:

College Career

Career: 34 games, 106 receptions, 1,999 yards, 17 touchdowns, 4 rush att, 17 yards

  • Freshman (2018, Alabama): 15 games, 45 rec, 858 yards, 7 TDs
  • Sophomore (2019, Alabama): 13 games, 33 rec, 560 yards, 6 TDs, 1 rush, 5 yards
  • Junior (2020, Alabama): 6 games, 28 rec, 591 yards, 4 TDs, 3 rush, 12 yards

Measurements

From Alabama pro day:

Height: 5’ 9-1/2”
Weight: 182 lbs
Arm Length: 30-3/8”
Hand size: 9-1/8”

Spider Chart (via MockDraftable.com)

Combine-style testing

Waddle did not test at either of Alabama’s two pro days as he continues his recovery from a fractured ankle sustained during the season.

What the are saying

Brent C. Taylor, Roll ‘Bama Roll - Most NFL mock drafts have been viewing Waddle as a top-15 draft prospect, though a few see him inching into the top 10. He’s one of the fastest players in the nation and combines that with electric, Percy Harvin-like, ability to avoid tackles and turn short catches into 80-yard catch and runs. On top of that, he’s consistently displayed the ability to make contested catches deep down the field and jump over people much bigger than him. He’s got almost perfect hands on his career, and has run every route on the tree. The detractors will point to his ankle injury, but also to all the other times he’s limped off the field for a drive here and there throughout his career. He’s also lacking the full-time starter experience, veteran savviness, and production that many NFL teams would look for in a top-15 draft pick. And at 5’10”, 180, he’s a bit on the small side.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com - Thrilling, game-breaking talent who will come into the league as one of the fastest receivers to ever play the game. His whereabouts pre-snap and post-snap must be accounted for at all times. Despite his size, he’s a legitimate outside option, thanks to his ability to not only take the top off the defense, but also go up and win 50-50 throws. Waddle’s adept at working all three levels, so it will be tough for defenses to predict how offenses will utilize him, as he has the potential to post a higher catch volume in the right offense. Waddle can instantly upgrade a team’s scoring potential, whether it’s with the deep ball, the catch-and-run or as a return man.

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com - Waddle is a slightly undersized receiver with extraordinary speed and playmaking ability. He has the ability to line up inside or outside. His acceleration in his release is elite. He destroys the cushions he receives from defenders in a hiccup and can find a second and third gear once the ball is in the air. He’s at his best on runaway routes, but he flashes the ability to efficiently gear down and work back downhill. I thought his hands were improved this fall (see: crazy catch versus Missouri in the season opener). He’s one of the most talented kickoff and punt returners (just watch the tape of his 2019 performance against Auburn) to enter the NFL over the last decade. Overall, Waddle isn’t quite as strong as Tyreek Hill, but he’s capable of having the same impact in the NFL.

Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network - Waddle is an explosive skill player and a lethal force any time the ball is in his hands. He was well on his way to developing his game before sustaining an ankle injury last season, yet he still showed great progress on the field. The lack of size may be a limiting factor, but the speed and pass-catching skill displayed the past two years will lead anyone to the conclusion that Waddle offers big-time potential at the next level.

ESPN.com - Waddle is an undersized slot receiver and punt return specialist. As a route runner, he explodes off the line and out of his breaks, and he tracks the deep ball extremely well. Press corners really struggle to redirect him because of his elite twitch and how fast he reaches top speed. Waddle is the most dangerous player in the country with the ball in his hands because of his lateral agility, elusiveness, field vision and breakaway speed. He isn’t afraid to work the middle but can be inconsistent catching in traffic. He gives adequate effort as a blocker but lacks size and strength to sustain.

Dolphins fit

If you have to “settle” for a pick, Waddle is a really good player for whom you should settle. It feels like the Dolphins are looking at tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase as their top targets with the sixth-overall pick, then would have to decide between Alabama teammates in Waddle or Devonta Smith. It seems like they are leaning toward Waddle, who would give them killer speed and a player who could immediately fill a role as the team’s slot receiver. A top trio of DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and Waddle would be an impressive grouping for Miami. Waddle is not pigeon-holed as a slot receiver, though, and he could play outside, with teams having to scheme how to slow him down where ever he is on the field. Injury will continue to be a concern for him, especially after the ankle injury last year. Reuniting Waddle with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, teammates at Alabama, could give Waddle a head start on the learning curve of coming to the NFL.